Do you ever wonder why you are sore after some workouts?
Do you find yourself measuring the success of your workout by how sore you are?
You may find yourself asking all of these questions after just completing a particularly hard workout or hitting the gym for the first time after a hiatus.
Why do we get sore?
Soreness often occurs after you perform an exercise/activity/task or intensity that your body is not accustomed to. You may find yourself getting sore after adding weight to your exercises, using more intensity, or even just performing a task in the backyard that you haven’t done since last year. When exercising, we create microscopic tears in the muscle. Hours/days after, our body then starts repairing those areas with blood and nutrients. This is when we may feel stiffer or more soreness/tenderness in a particular area. This is sometimes referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and it can occur anywhere from 12 hours to 5 days after an activity.
Why do some people get more sore than others?
While your friend and you may have completed the exact same workout, you woke up unable to sit down on the toilet and she felt no soreness. How is that even fair? Like many other things, soreness can be somewhat related to genetics. Some people just get more sore than others. Your friend also may have been more familiar with the exercise. Is your friend’s day to day life more active than yours? Was the intensity a little bit higher than yours? Has your friend been exercising for longer than you? Just like every body reacts differently to different medicines or calorie intakes, every body reacts differently to exercise stressors and adaptations.
What can I do to help prevent soreness?
While there are not any actual “cures” to DOMS, there are a few things that can help the healing process.
1. Stay Hydrated! – muscle soreness will only get worse if you are dehydrated. Get adequate water intake (about half your body weight in ounces of water).
2.Eat nutritious/whole foods – With no nutrients coming into the body, your body has nothing to repair your muscles with.
a. Are you eating enough carbs? Carbs help manage your muscle protein breakdown and helps with hydration.
b. How much protein are you eating? To optimize recovery and muscle protein synthesis.7-1g per body weight is ideal.
3. Get Quality Sleep – Sleep is when growth hormones are released. Growth hormones stimulate muscle growth and repair.
4. Light exercise – Increases blood flow throughout the body
5. Tart Cherries – For an extra nutritional boost, you can work tart cherries, or just their juice, into your regular diet. A couple of servings per week, along with a generally nutrient-rich diet, is plenty during typical training. However, if you are gearing up for a marathon, it can be beneficial to switch to a once-daily plan.
6. Don’t overdo it in the gym – This sets you up for failure in your workouts later in the week. Try not to overuse/abuse eccentrics (The part of the movement when the muscle is being loaded in a stretched position, i.e. as you lower yourself in a squat or bicep curl.) It is during this time that most muscle damage occurs.